Endangered Galapagos penguins swim in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (Photo © Michael J. Haber).
Conserving Galapagos Wildlife and Ecosystems
The natural biological processes in the Galapagos Islands have been disrupted by several factors over the last few centuries:
- Ecological damage caused long ago by pirates, whalers, and early settlers;
- An ever-increasing human population (both resident and visitor); and
- The presence of aggressive introduced species.
Additionally, marine wildlife and the marine ecosystem have been under tremendous pressure in recent decades, especially due to fishing activities. Increasing boat traffic creates higher potential for the arrival and establishment of invasive marine species, which can negatively impact the native ecosystem. Moreover, changes in ocean temperatures and currents due to global climate change may impact the ecosystem by reducing the food supply for many native species and creating conditions more conducive to some invasive species.
As a result, many wildlife and plant species both on land and in the ocean are now threatened, if not critically endangered. Left unchecked, the Islands will suffer irreversible losses.
Galapagos Conservancy’s Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation efforts seek to protect, conserve, and restore healthy, balanced native plant and animal communities as close to pre-human conditions as possible. This includes:
- Research related to the highest conservation priorities in Galapagos;
- Development of conservation management strategies to ensure the sustainability of Galapagos ecosystems into the future, and
- Continual improvements to the biosecurity of the Archipelago.
Important components of this work include the identification and evaluation of systems and factors with historical, current, or potentially future negative impacts on Galapagos ecosystems — and the development of methods to reverse or control them. Galapagos Conservancy, through its grants program, provides support to institutions and individuals working on these high priority issues.
Galapagos Conservancy partners with many organizations in Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation projects, primarily through grants to individuals and institutions. Primary partners include the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Galapagos Biosecurity Agency, Charles Darwin Foundation, local non-profit organizations, and Ecuadorian and international scientists from various universities and institutions.
Grant-making by Galapagos Conservancy to institutions and individuals doing conservation research and management in Galapagos depends on the ongoing support of our many individual members, as well as several family foundations.
Major Project Areas We Support in Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation:
- Landbird Conservation and Control of Philornis downsi
- Ecosystem Restoration through Invasive Plants and Insects Research and Management
- Blue-footed Booby Population Analysis
- Galapagos Penguin Conservation
- Marine Ecosystem Research and Management
- Quarantine and Control of Introduced Species
- Project Floreana
- Project Pinzón
- Project Isabela
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